Feminist Big Data & session Bodies in #Aoir2016 Berlin

I can’t wait to talk about feminist research methods, big data and self-tracking in Berlin.

fleshmachineOn Thursday, October 6 between 16:00 – 17:30, I will be presenting work in the Panel ‘Bodies’, chaired by Gina Neff. My paper is about Feminism in the era of the Quantified Self: Agency, labour and future markets. I examine dominant discourses of empowerment in apps targeting women (reproductive health and well being), and I discuss how far data collection has the potential to make the voices of women heard, beyond the articulation of consumer demands about digital health. This is new work in progress. 

 

On Friday, October 7, between 11:00 – 12:30, we’re discussing feminist approaches to big data culture with Helen Kennedy (Sheffield), Jean Burgess, Kate Crawford, Rosemary Lucy Hill, & Kate O’Riordan, in the first roundtable session. The plenary session focuses on visions and imagining of feminist big data futures. The key question is: what would feminist big data, data studies and datavis look like? And as the organiser Helen K. put it in the abstract for the session: ‘How can and should feminists respond to the rise of big data? Given that critique of the assumed objectivity and neutrality of big data and related methods has a feminist history, feminist scholars are well-placed to respond to the problems that big data usher forth. One outcome of objectivity critique is a heavy reliance on qualitative methods in feminist research, yet it is precisely because of the types of problems that feminist scholarship has been so good at identifying that there is a need not just for feminist critiques of quantitative methods, data and assumptions of objectivity, but for feminism to do big data and data visualisation. In other words, we need feminist data studies which is active in creating, representing and communicating data. How do we move forward from critiques of data as not really objective, but cooked, to understanding how and why it matters to feminists and feminism? How do we respond to Haraway’s proposal that encoding and visualisation are inherently patriarchal projects? What might feminist big data, data studies and datavis look like?’

Advertisements

Where next in Digital culture & communication?

c20d3e7877Back from the festive Salzburg, where I co-organised the workshop of the Digital Culture and Communication section of ECREA, with the Department of Communication Studies, Center for ICT&S, University of Salzburg & partnered with the Centre for Research on Media Innovations (CeRMI) at the University of Oslo. Although initially I was sceptical about the theme Standards, Values and Disruptions, and had difficulty finding its relevance to my research, it turned out to be a good provocation – not only for me, but also for many of the participants. The workshop was a cosy two-days, with low key discussions and a few more challenging ones.

I enjoyed Helen Kennedy’s (University of Sheffield) keynote talk on Wednesday; she gave an overview of data visualisation initiatives (including hers and her colleagues’). When she mentioned interviewing people in businesses about their obsession with numbers and quantification, I couldn’t help thinking about my own auto-ethnographic experience using Fitbit – where my obsession and fetishisation of numbers and of diagrams hit an unfamiliar, to me, high. I write about this in detail in my peer-reviewed article ‘Training to self-care: Fitness tracking, biopedagogy and the healthy consumer’ (with Kate O’Riordan, under review at the moment). Helen linked numbers and quantification to proof of success; in my work, I link it to proof of my productivity, and drawing from Melissa Gregg’s key work, to a characteristic anxiety with productivity of the middle classes – particularly the academic middle class worker.

Helen also showed some examples of Stefanie Posavec’s creative work with data, which reminded me about how data means many different things to people and, like all things, they can be good, bad, ugly or beautiful.

The workshop was a good place to re-visit the scope of the Section. As Vice Chair of the Section, it was reassuring to hear the opinions of our Section members during the business meeting. It is true that social media is a thematic that pertains many ECREA sections (see for example the excellent Political Agency in the Digital Age workshop organised by the Communication & Democracy Section), and it is not a cutting edge development any more. So I agree with many who stated that the Section should maintain its cutting edge focus – currently around datafication & society – while at the same time maintaining its critical stance to all things that relate to digital culture and communication.

Looking forward to the next ECREA in Prague in November 2016!

Event Report, YECREA meeting at DCC Bonn

2013-10-03-09-22-26ARISTEA FOTOPOULOU (UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX), YECREA REPRESENTATIVE DIGITAL CULURE AND COMMUNICATION SECTION

Event Report, November 2013

‘Planning a non-conventional academic career in digital culture and communication: Challenges and opportunities’

YECREA meeting, Friday 5 October 2013, 16.30-17.45. DCC Annual Workshop, Bonn 2-5 October 2013.

Workshop overview:

img_6782aResearchers in the early stages of their career and young scholars share similar concerns that relate to the current state of insecurity in academic fields, throughout Europe. For scholars in the fields of digital media and digital culture in particular, this insecurity can be even more pressing, especially since questions around ‘big data’, internet and society are increasingly becoming the focus of other disciplines. At the same time, this spread of focus provides some new opportunities for digital media and communication scholars, to cross-fertilise their research and to work across conventional disciplinary boundaries, and seek alternative homes, practices and collaborations that can help their ideas grow. This much needed workshop was aimed at young and emerging scholars (Postgraduate students, Doctoral students and early career scholars) within the fields of Digital Culture and Communication.

img_6796aThe workshop addressed questions such as: How can I draw a career path that is responsive to the changing state of the field? How can I develop my first grant proposal in digital culture and communication? How can I write a CV which reflects my strengths to produce robust research? And what is the actual situation of professionals in the field – how do they see the opportunities and hindrances for a professional future in digital culture and communication? During the workshop we discussed how scholars in different stages of their careers confront specific challenges in our field. We tried to draw on similarities and differences that apply in different European contexts, as well as on experiences and strategies that scholars at different stages have followed in their personal careers. The plenary discussion provided helpful insights and helped to address questions, share thoughts and personal issues of participants, related to the state of the field. Invited speakers in the session were Prof Elisenda Ardevol (Chair of ECREA Digital Culture and Communication), Dr Veronica Barassi (Goldsmiths, University of London), Jessica Einspänner, MA (University of Bonn), Dr Kate O’Riordan (University of Sussex), Dr Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic (European Commission – JRC), and was chaired by Dr Aristea Fotopoulou (YECREA Representative in the DCC Section, University of Sussex).

img_6931After a brief introduction by the Chair, each of the participants gave a brief talk about:

  • Where they place themselves in relation to the wider disciplinary fields of digital culture and communication
  • What they see as some potential challenges and opportunities for (other) European young scholars in the fields of digital culture and communication.

Most speakers noted that digital media now seems to be everywhere, and not just in media studies departments. What becomes perhaps challenging is how to address the specificity of the digital, which is increasingly a question that students pose.

Kate O’Riordan noted that a challenge is to maintain a critical perspective within this context, and also identified precarious employment and the economic crisis as the challenging conditions for young scholars today.

img_6915Elisenda Ardevol talked about how studies and University Departments in digital culture and communication have transformed during the last 20 years and stressed that strictly speaking “digital culture is not a disciplinary field: it is an emerging object, which is complex and interdisciplinary in its constitution”. She saw opportunities for young and emerging scholars because they can develop their own expertise and research, coming from different disciplinary backgrounds. She gave the example of her own personal research, which was an anthropological study of Roma districts, and how this led her to internet study.

img_6919Similarly, Jessica Einspänner narrated how she started as a media practice professional, working in the radio, but her fascination with media led her to theoretical studies. She noted that for students digital media appears as an exciting direction and a potentially well-paid job, however their expectations for practical skills are not always met within theoretical University-study programmes. Jessica also found that there is currently more encouragement in Germany towards women to continue with postdoc projects, after obtaining their PhD.

Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic who has worked for four years as a postdoctoral researcher in media studies, focused on the additional dimensions to her work that were added once she moved on to engage in science studies projects, such as the JRC ethics and ICTs project.

img_6923Following the introductory talks, speakers engaged in plenary discussion reflected on their own practices, and to gave advice about how to think ‘outside the box’, following the questions posed by the Chair.

  • what was your first job entering academia,

  • what is your ideal non-conventional job,

  • how would you do things differently had you known what you know now (even if this is your first job),

  • how is your job now different to what you had expected as a Ph.D. student,

  • how has the recent focus on digital methods and big data influenced your research? Has it changed your research interests and practice?

img_6878Veronica Barassi advised young scholars to build networks at the early stages of their career. She noted that the early years of contractual employment are difficult and that, sometimes, there needs to be a Plan B in place. Kate O’Riordan suggested that young scholars should seek to publish their PhD thesis as a book, to work on collaborative projects and to move around different institutions. Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic stronlgy encouraged young scholars to participate in the ECREA summer school.

The audience asked questions about publication strategies, namely what the position of the speakers was when it comes to high impact journal vs. open access. Here speakers noted that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) shapes to a great extend the publishing strategies of academics in the UK. The audience discussion also concerned billingual pubishing, and the legal framework for publishing in Germany and how official approval is required before submission.

This report is also published in the YECREA website blog, see http://yecrea.eu/node/2345

For a report on the Digital Culture and Communication workshop as a whole, and photos, see https://dccecrea.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/after-bonn-views-from-the-observatory/

YECREA Meeting at the DCC Workshop in Bonn. Planning a non-conventional academic career in digital culture and communication

As ECREA Young Scholars Network (YECREA) representative for the Digital Culture and Communication (DCC) section, I am organising the YECREA meeting in Bonn, themed ‘Planning a non-conventional academic career in digital culture and communication: Challenges and opportunities’.
Bonn 2-5 October 2013.

Researchers in the early stages of their career and young scholars share similar concerns that relate to the current state of insecurity in academic fields, throughout Europe. For scholars in the fields of digital media and digital culture in particular, this insecurity can be even more pressing, especially since questions around ‘big data’, internet and society are increasingly becoming the focus of other disciplines. At the same time, this spread of focus provides some new opportunities for digital media and communication scholars, to cross-fertilise their research and to work across conventional disciplinary boundaries, and seek alternative homes, practices and collaborations that can help their ideas grow. This workshop is aimed at young and emerging scholars, and will address questions such as: How can I draw a career path that is responsive to the changing state of the field? How can I develop my first grant proposal in digital culture and communication? How can I write a CV which reflects my strengths to produce robust research?  And what is the actual situation of professionals in the field – how do they see the opportunities and hindrances for a professional future in digital culture and communication?

In this workshop we aim to discuss how scholars in different stages of their careers confront  specific challenges in our field. We will try to draw on similarities and differences that apply in different European contexts, as well as on experiences and strategies that scholars at different stages have followed in their personal careers. The plenary discussion will provide helpful insights and will help to address questions and personal issues of participants.

Target Participants: ‘Young’ scholars (Postgraduate students, Doctoral students and early-career postdoc scholars) within the field of Digital Culture and Communication.

Invited Speakers:

– Prof Elisenda Ardevol (Chair of ECREA Digital Culture and Communication)
– Dr Kate O’Riordan (University of Sussex)
– Dr Veronica Barassi (Goldsmiths, University of London)
– Jessica Einspänner, MA (University of Bonn)
– Lucia Vesnic-Alujevic, PhD (European Commission – JRC)

Chair: Dr Aristea Fotopoulou (YECREA Representative in the DCC Section, University of Sussex)

Objectives:

To help young and other emerging scholars to think ‘outside the box’ and to develop successful career plans
To learn from the career experiences of established senior scholars in the field
To share thoughts, questions and challenges related to the state of the field
To network with other junior and senior scholars in the DCC academic field

Places are limited, so if interested to participate or for any further information please contact Aristea Fotopoulou (a.fotopoulou@sussex.ac.uk)

For full programme see: http://131.220.42.248/wordpress/?page_id=11

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/302147786597601/

YECREA website: http://yecrea.eu/node/2331

YECREA representative for the Digital Culture and Communication section

I’m the new elected ECREA Young Scholars Network representative in the Digital Culture and Communication section. In this blog I introduce myself. If you are an early career scholar or Doctoral student working in some aspect of Digital Culture and Communication, do get in contact.